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Clients want associates to remember who pays their salary. As we have previously reported, the authors of What About Clients are trying to start a “Value Movement” which, among other things, asks whether associates should pay their firm for the privilege of working.

Unfortunately, this idea just won’t die. And Holden Oliver thinks that the market meltdown is a perfect opportunity to reexamine the structure of the business of law:

Hopefully, there’s this silver lining in the Down Economy: a renewal of the notion that workplaces exist to serve and give value to Customers and Clients, and the companies organized to help them. Not to serve and cater to Employees. As we see it — and most states have traditionally seen it–it’s a privilege to work. Not a right. And it’s a special honor to learn and practice the law.

More people jump on the bandwagon, below the fold.


Scott Greenfield over at Simple Justice claims that this is an idea whose time has come:

From the perspective of serving the client, there’s always the dirty little secret that big firms like to keep to themselves. When they put a half dozen young’ens on a case (and charge the client fees that would make a 20 year solo practitioner blush), it really isn’t for the clients’ benefit. They actually bring nothing, other than save an old-timer’s back by carrying his heavy bag.

If we were to stop worrying so much about the young lawyer, and worry a little more about the client who is subsidizing the young lawyer’s education, would that be wrong?

Well that’s just great! Associates didn’t start the fire, but why not blame them for it anyway?

It seems that if clients are concerned about “subsidizing the young lawyer’s education,” then their issue is with law schools, not law firms. If you want junior associates to do more than review thousands of emails (and by the way: somebody has to review all of your boring emails to make sure that Larry the File Guy doesn’t perjure himself), then you have to train junior associates while they are still in school.

You want to talk about “dirty little secrets?” How about the fact that without astronomically high salaries, many of the best and brightest young lawyers would simply do something else. If you wanted to pay high school teachers $160K straight out of school, America would have the best high schools in the world. Meanwhile, Mr. Woodcock would be standing next to you while some AUSA asked you about “that night you spent in Tijuana.”

It’s a privilege to work? Yes. Absolutely. Thanks ever so much. But it is also a privilege to have really smart people do your bidding and keep you in compliance with a myriad of laws you couldn’t possibly understand. Associates are not leeches; they have a symbiotic relationship with their clients.

You want to take the money away? Go ahead. The legal system would probably be better off anyway if everybody received the same “least common denominator” level of representation.

Simple Justice for Clients and Customers? [What About Clients?]

The Value Movement: Should New Associates Pay for the Privilege? [Simple Justice]

Earlier: Should Associates Pay Their Law Firms for the Privilege of Working There?


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